BAKU, Azerbaijan

An Azerbaijani presidential aide on Wednesday accused Armenia’s premier of disrespecting the international community over his recent call on civilians to fight in the front against Azerbaijan in ongoing clashes to which there would be “no diplomatic solution.”

In a written statement, Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the Azerbaijani president, responded to statements by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its surroundings could not be resolved diplomatically.

Arguing that these remarks once again demonstrated that Armenia was “not interested at all in the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Hajiyev said Yerevan intended to continue occupying Azerbaijani territories.

Underlining that Pashinyan “recklessly” and “for the sake of his political ambitions” encouraged all civil bodies and civilians to take up arms, Hajiyev said this official position “proves” which side broke past humanitarian cease-fires and contributed to the “escalation of the situation in the region.”

“Indeed, such statements by a person who orders a ‘SCUD’-type ballistic missile attack on Azerbaijan’s Ganja city and constant rocket and artillery shelling of other cities and districts’ residents must not come as a surprise.”

He pointed out that Pashinyan’s statement came on the heels of a working visit by the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Moscow and before another ministerial meeting in the US.

Hajiyev urged the international community, and in particular the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chair countries, to “draw a conclusion” from this statement by Armenia’s leadership against the backdrop of Baku’s “constructive stance” regarding the conflict.

“In the meantime, this statement by the Armenia’s leadership is disrespectful towards the international community’s steps aimed at the diplomatic resolution of the conflict.”

“The Republic of Azerbaijan supports a negotiated settlement of the conflict via an existing road map based on the UN Security Council resolution,” he added.

Additionally, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter that Pashinyan’s statement “reveals the intention of Armenia. It is clear who wants war.”

He added that peace and stability “will come to the South Caucasus only when Karabakh is freed from occupation.”

New clashes

Since fresh clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, even violating humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

In two missile attacks on Ganja, a major Azerbaijani city far from the front line, Armenia killed some two dozen civilians, including children, and injured scores more.

Last Thursday, Armenia targeted civilians at a cemetery in the western city of Tartar, killing four and injuring four others.

Since Oct. 10, Armenia has violated two humanitarian cease-fires in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

A new humanitarian cease-fire entered into force last Saturday.

Upper Karabakh conflict

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh.

Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly, as well as international organizations, demand the “immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from occupied Azerbaijani territory.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.

World powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have called for a new cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.

*Writing by Burak Dag

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